08/16/2005 11:00PM

Puxa Saco's last is a toss, Sahadi says

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Puxa Saco went from a brilliant performance to a dreadful one at Hollywood Park earlier this year with a win in the Grade 3 Desert Stormer Handicap in June and an eighth in the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap in July.

The A Gleam makes her form look poor for Friday's $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar, but trainer Jenine Sahadi insists that Puxa Saco will be ready.

"I think she'll run her race. I have to throw that race out and start over," Sahadi said of the A Gleam. "When she's doing good, she doesn't throw in a clunker like that."

Sahadi said that Puxa Saco bled from the lungs in the A Gleam.

"I put my binoculars down after a half-mile and walked out of there," she said.

is one of eight fillies and mares in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo, run at 6 1/2 furlongs. The race features Dee Dee's Diner, who won the Valkyr Stakes against statebred females at Hollywood Park on July 16; the recent allowance race winners Behaving Badly and Freakin Streakin; and Resplendency, who won the Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita in January.

Puxa Saco is reunited with Mike Smith, who rode for the Desert Stormer win and for a game third in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 7.

Friday's pace could suit Puxa Saco. She won the Desert Stormer by stalking the pace, and should have ample pace to follow from Dee Dee's Diner, Freakin Streakin, and Resplendency.

was claimed for $80,000 on May 19 and returned to win the Valkyr. The form of that race has held up. Runner-up Tucked Away returned to win the Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Handicap on Aug. 7.

has not started since finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 6. She fought for the lead with a rival in that route race before fading badly.

"The long race was a disaster," trainer Bob Baffert said. "I think they opened up 10 lengths on the field - it was disastrous. It cooked her. I freshened her up and she's doing good."

Baffert also starts Behaving Badly, who is unbeaten in two starts. She returned from an 11-month layoff to win a first-condition allowance race at six furlongs on July 24. Behaving Badly led throughout that race, winning by a length.